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Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic beat Rafael Nadal this weekend for his 39th straight match victory and his seventh tournament title of 2011, nearly one-third of his career total.His 37 straight wins to start the year is the best in nearly two decades and he has now beaten the world’s No. 1-ranked player (Nadal) four straight times, including twice on clay, Nadal’s strongest surface.
For years, Djokovic has been a great, but not dominating player and has struggled against bigger superstars Nadal and Roger Federer. Now, as the French Open nears, he’s suddenly the best player in the sport – the best it has seen in years.
So what happened? Gluten.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Djokovic learned last year that he has a gluten allergy. So he completely cut it out of his diet. So pasta, beer, cookies, cereal, or even Twizzlers.
Now he’s not just five pounds lighter and a step quicker, he’s dominating. He won his first major in January and beat Nadal twice in two weeks without giving up a set. If he reaches the French Open final, he’ll break John McEnroe’s record for victories to start a season.
But is it really just diet? Maybe. One nutritionist says that those who have allergies and give up gluten see tremendous benefits, but that those benefits are mostly mental, not physical.
And in a sport where endurance and focus often the make all the difference, a clear mind is the difference between a Grand Slam and being an also ran.
So if you’ve got a tennis prodigy at home, start reading the labels on those snack packs.